Hierarchy of control is a system used in industry to eliminate or reduce exposure to risk in the workplace. The hierarchy of control is highlighted in a decreasing order of effectiveness.
Hazard/Risk control is important in protecting workers in the workplace.
The idea of the hierarchy of control is that risk control should start from the top of the hierarchy down. In most cases a combination of control measures from the hierarchy are chosen to effectively reduce the risk posed by a hazard. Since no single control measure always work, the hierarchy of control serves as a guide as we work through the process of risk control.
The hierarchy of risk control is useful in determining which control measures are appropriate.
The elements of hierarchy of control follows thus:
- Engineering controls
- Administrative controls
- Personal protective equipment
Let us explain the different elements;
Elimination: This involve removing the hazard from the workplace so that no one is exposed to the risk it posses. Example; a production process can be changed so that some chemicals, materials or equipment are no longer required.
Substitution: This is the second most effective hazard control measure. It involves replacing an hazard material or equipment with less hazardous ones. For example a lead-based paint can be replaces with a paint that do not contain lead.
Engineering Controls: This involve designing a solution that controls the hazard at its source. Example; building a physical barrier between the personnel and the hazard.
Administrative Control: Developing work procedures that will favour safe work practice, like workers rotation to reduce exposure time, provision of welfare facilities, etc.
Personal protective equipment: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is termed – The last line of defense. It is used when all other control measures fail. They include; Hand gloves, coveralls, respirators, hard hats, safety glasses, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear, etc.